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(en) Mexico, More than 100,000 in Mexico City protest arrest of striking

From Richard Mellor <aactivist@igc.org>
Date Fri, 11 Feb 2000 16:32:10 -0500


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>MEXICO CITY, Feb 9 (AFP) -
More than 100,000 people demonstrated in Mexico City on Wednesday to demand
the liberation of students arrested when police regained control of the
country's main campus closed by a nine-month strike.

The demonstration, which included students, parents of the detainees, trade
unions and leftist groups, was the largest in 12 years in Mexico, and came
at the height of campaigning for July 2 presidential elections.
Chanting "freedom, freedom," the demonstrators demanded the release of the
85 students still held since police took control of UNAM's main campus on
Sunday.

They held up banners pledging to continue their strike even though they
lost control of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Latin
America's largest university, which they had blockaded for more than nine
months.
The demonstrators also chanted slogans calling for an end of the
Institutional Ruling Party (PRI)'s 70-year hold on power.
Chants of "not a vote for the PRI" echoed across the historic city center
as more than 100,000 people -- some estimates put the number of 150,000
people -- converged on the central Zocalo square.

The PRI's candidate, ex-Interior Minister Francisco Labastida is by far the
favorite to win the presidential election. The leftist Party of the
Democratic Revolution (PRD), among those who took part in the protest,
trailed far behind, with opinion polls showing its candidate, ex-Mexico
City Mayor Cuahtemoc Cardenas trailing about 15 points behind his PRI
rival.

It took more than three hours for all protesters to complete the
four-kilometer (2.5-mile) march from the landmark monument to independence
to the Zocalo.
Demonstrators said the protest was similar in size to those held in 1968,
which ended when police opened fire on some students on October 2 of that
year, killing about 300 people.

There was no immediate report of incidents in Wednesday's march.
Earlier in the day, police handed the UNAM facilities back to university
officials.

A total of 745 people were held as police took control of university
buildings and dismantled barricades. All but 85 of them have since been
released.
Rebel leader subcommander Marcos denounced Wednesday what he described as
the jailing of "hundreds of young students in clear violation of the law,
common sense and reason."

"No one can talk of democracy in this country as long as students fill the
jails," said Marcos, leader of the Zapatista National Liberation Army
(EZLN), which continues to campaign for indigenous rights from its base in
the southern state of Chiapas.

Marcos said in a statement that the EZLN fully supported protests against
the detentions and called for "a national mobilization to protest the
aggression against the national university."

It was after the failure of previous attempts at dialogue that the
government-level decision was taken to apply for a court order authorizing
Sunday's evictions and arrests.
The most radical group among the students had refused to accept the results
of a referendum conducted by university authorities on January 20, in which
almost 90 percent of university students and personnel who voted said they
wanted classes to resume.

The strike began last year in protest at plans to introduce tuition fees in
the public university. But students added new demands after university
officials subsequently withdrew the fees.

Richard Mellor
2nd VP, AFSCME Local 444 **
Oakland CA

** For Identification purposes only
Check out our website:http://www.laborsmilitantvoice.com
ph: 510-595-4676

"I'd rather vote for something I want and not get it than something I don't
want and get it"    Eugene Debs

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